MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- In the first court confrontation between West Virginia University and Rich Rodriguez, the former Mountaineers football coach it sued to recover $4 million, a judge today warned the case is unlikely to go to trial anytime soon.
The university was hoping the trial would begin before the fall football season.
But Monongalia County Judge Robert Stone, who heard various motions, including one to expedite the trial, warned:
"I don't mean to suggest that this case is going to be completed by mid-summer. I don't think that's very reliable or achievable. . . . We have a major case to develop."
The next step is for lawyers for both sides to begin talks Monday about how to manage the case timetable from here, starting with depositions this month of Rodriguez, Athletic Director Ed Pastilong and others.
Stone also ruled on a number of motions, primarily allowing to stand "at this stage" Rodriguez's accusation that he was fraudulently induced into signing a 2007 contract.
The university filed its lawsuit two days after Christmas and 11 days after Rodriguez departed for the University of Michigan, citing a clause in his contract that required him to pay $4 million in penalty or liquidated damages, with a one-third payment due in mid-January. Rodriguez's attorneys countered with claims of breach of contract.
Rodriguez did not attend the two-and-a-half hour hearing, but his wife did.
"We will not back down," Rita Rodriguez said.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.